February 7, 2023

Lagos boosts access to health care services as SFH marks 40th

By Sola Ogundipe

The series of plans by the Lagos state government to boost access to comprehensive health care services in the state through repackaged health insurance plans, was a highpoint  during a Leadership Retreat to herald the New Work Strategy, and to mark the  40th anniversary of the Society for Family Health, SFH,  held last week in the Lagos Sheraton Hotel.

The retreat marked the end of the operation of the SFH strategic plan, Facilitating People-Centred Healthcare (FPCH), and heralded the development of a new strategy for the next generation which will be the basis of the operations of the organisation. 

In a statement, the Managing Director, SFH, Dr Omokhudu Idogho, said, “This next strategy calls us to leverage our 40 years of experience to rewrite the constructs of the Africa health system, with a clear focus on stronger partnership, forward thinking science and an untiring commitment to transform health outcomes for all.” 

 President of the Board of SFH, Prof Ekanem Ikpi Braide, said, “This anniversary is a unique opportunity to tell our stories and to celebrate the people we serve – our donors, and our governments. 

“This retreat therefore is an opportunity for us to pause, reflect, unlearn, learn and re-ignite our collective purpose to finish the job we have started, working with our partners…” 

Giving a run-down of the new process, the Technical Assistant to the C4Health, Lagos State and a Health Economist at  the Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Olamide Okulaja, explained that what Lagos is trying to do is to find a mechanism that is sustainable. 

“We want to create a system  that is sustainable and in the next 20-30 years it would still be there and people will be able to access services in a qualitative and quantitative manner therough an egalitarian system.

“We are going to be integrating the formal  private, formal public and the informal sector into that situation. For those in the informal sector, they may essentially be paying a percentage of their income, versus a flat fee of N8,500. 

“But those in the formal sector will still be paying the N8,500, and those that cannot pay themselves will be highly subsidised by government

Further, he expalined, “Essentially, in a health financing mechanism, the preferred method is the same with a tax system, in which you do not find everybody paying the same tax, it is based on how much you earn, and so if you are able to identify how much you earn,  you will be made to pay a percentage versus flat fee.

If you are in the informal sector where that is not possible, then you would be paying a flat fee.

The SFH prides itself for contributing substantially to Nigeria’s health sector achievements in the last 40 years, including the reduction of maternal mortality from 1,000 per 100,000 live births in 1985 to 512/100,000 live births in 2021, and infant mortality rate coming down from 132 per 1,000 in 1985, to 54 per 1,000 live births in 2022. 

It has also been a leader in family planning, HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, nutrition, hypertension, diabetes, and COVID among others. 

Leaders from SFH branches in the four Anglophone West African nations—Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, and Nigeria—will be attending the two-day retreat.